In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Tim Suther, click here.
This weekly feature usually attempts to cover a range of pertinent topics in marketing, delving into every nook and cranny of the CMO's mind to provide a kaleidoscope of insights. However, this time around we're honing in on networking, something that helped Tim Suther, Managing Director at JP Morgan Chase, not only earn a President's Circle Award at the 2015 CMO Club Awards, but also rise in the ranks during his career. Our conversations always leave me feeling inspired, often contemplating some new idea, and this was no different. Read on to learn how Tim Suther cultivates his best network, and get connecting!
1) It's a must-do.
Some of us are natural contact-makers, and others require a little more needling to get mingling. But networking, the constant forging of new relationships, is an essential part of every would-be CMO's career. "I can't think of a single successful executive who doesn't have a strong peer network," notes Suther. "No one knows it all. No one is awesome at everything."
Let's say you're a big fish in your pond, or an expert in your field. By all accounts, you enjoy a successful career, but success knows no bounds, and networking often leads you into previously unexplored territory. Says Suther, "Many great breakthroughs thread together previously disparate concepts... So, if you want to make a difference in business, or for that matter, the world, build your peer network."
2) Make time for it.
Networking sometimes takes us away from our work, which is why many of us place it low in rank among priorities. Rather than think of networking as an activity reserved for conferences or mixers, try to integrate it where it fits with your own schedule. "I travel frequently and try to use the time at the ends of normal business hours to meet and listen to people," offers Suther. Maybe even mix it with mealtime. "Meeting for an early coffee or an adult beverage after work, pre-dinner are my favorites," he suggests. "I like the informality of this format, because it promotes relationships over transactions."
3) Find a balance.
Speaking of transactions, some would say that in networking, one starts with giving, and the taking will follow. However, being in a leadership position could find you fielding more calls to "give" than you anticipate. For Suther, striking a balance between the two, and knowing when the scale is tipping, is key. "My approach to peer networking is to be a maker, not a taker. I try to be very accessible," he explains. "I'll take your calls, respond to your emails, etc., but my Spidey Sense is also active; ultimately, the relationship has to have a mutual value exchange."
4) Diversify your rolodex.
While Suther stresses the importance of a strong peer network, that doesn't mean your network has to look homogenous. In fact, he encourages curating a healthy variety of contacts. "I also want diversity in my network, a blend of millenials to boomers, startups to established companies, senior executives to specialists. The mosaic of perspectives is valuable to me," he says. To touch on our earlier point about the value of networking to broaden horizons, Suther offers, "Having a diverse network enables the divergent thinking needed to succeed in an ever faster moving world."
5) Form an opinion, and hold onto it.
If you network as much as Suther does, keeping your opinions in order can be extremely helpful. He tells me that LinkedIn is his go-to app, but what "One thing I do that's a bit different, is I write a [point of view] on interesting companies (and the people that work for them)," he says. "I have hundreds of these POVs in the cloud, accessible on demand." If you find that faces, names, companies and conferences are becoming a blur, this might be your new favorite strategy. Concludes Suther, "I find that helpful in a world where it's easy for everything to sound the same."
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today column appearing every Thursday